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A Spicy History of Campbell’s Tomato Soup Spice Cake

 

Tomato soup as an ingredient to a sweet & delicious cake? Don’t write it off quite yet, it actually has a long history here at Campbell and it’s still going strong today. About 1 out of every 5 requests our test kitchens receive for a recipe using Campbell’s Condensed Tomato soup is a request for Tomato Soup Spice Cake.

A Delicious Beginning

The Tomato Soup Spice Cake first appeared in an undated cookbook from approximately the late 1920’s or early 1930’s, but our first official records begin in October 1940 with the development of a recipe called Steamed Fruit & Nut Pudding. It was a classic steamed pudding spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, as well as the secret ingredient of Campbell’s Condensed Tomato soup.

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In September of 1942, the cake was modified to a Halloween Spice Cake, which removed the fruit from the original recipe and added fun, decorative Halloween faces to the frosting.

Perfecting the Recipe

From 1950 to 1966, many different tweaks to the recipe were published in Campbell’s cookbooks. Different kinds of flour, different oven temperatures, more and fewer eggs, as well as more and less water were all tested out in an effort to perfect the texture of the cake.

Finally, in 1966, experiment #38 met success, and the recipe was adapted to use in many cake mixes that were popular at the time.

Campbell continued to evolve the recipe with trends in the culinary world, from offering a Bundt cake version made with Gingerbread Mix, holiday fruitcakes and a recipe which used Campbell’s Low Sodium Tomato soup.

In 2003, we proudly served a Tomato Soup Ginger Cake blasted with walnut flakes at a dinner during the annual conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

The Legend Lives On

Earlier this year, Tomato Soup Cake was featured on NBC’s Today show during a cooking demonstration. Watch the video: 

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Today, the recipe has many different versions available on Campbell’s Kitchen, from Glazed Carrot Raisin cupcakes to Spiced Tomato Soup “Cancakes” where the recipe is baked in the Campbell’s Tomato soup can, and there are even versions for a Ginger Spice Cheesecake and a “Secret Ingredient” Sweet Potato Pie.

1949, the cake recipe appeared in the New York Times, and in 1960 it became the first recipe to appear on a soup label. While the recipe may not be listed on the label anymore, Campbell’s Kitchen still sees many consumers looking for the recipe for this long-time favorite, with nearly 65,000 views a year to various versions of the recipe on CampbellsKitchen.com.

What do you think, will you give this long-standing recipe a try?

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Easy Tomato Soup Spice Cake

Serves: 12

1 box (about 18 ounces) spice cake mix

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Tomato Soup

1/2 cup water

2 eggs

16 ounces (1 container) store-bought cream cheese frosting or homemade cream cheese frosting

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease and flour 2 (8 or 9-inch) round cake pans.
  2. Combine the cake mix, soup, water and eggs in a large bowl and mix according to the package directions.  Pour the batter into the pans.
  3. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Remove the cakes from the pans and let cool completely.
  4. Fill and frost with the cream cheese frosting.
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  • skander

    It has been a tradition for me to have Tomato Soup Cake for my birthday, since the 1970’s. Shortcutting the recipe to the point of using a generic bought ‘spice cake’ mix is just as lazy as a millennial can be. Glad you thought it was ‘cute’ to post a picture of the original recipe, which I will follow.

  • Patti

    This is the first cake I ever ate, born in 1941 in Toronto, when so much was being rationed this was a very special treat. My Mom soaked the raisins(if we were lucky enough to have them) so they were lovely and plump. We didn’t have Icing but I look forward to making this and smothering it with Cream Cheese Frosting……haven’t had this since my Mom died in 1990, and her recipe mysteriously vanished. Thank you for the original – there is nothing like this recipe!

  • Patti

    This is the first cake I ever ate, born in 1941 in Toronto, when so much was being rationed this was a very special treat. My Mom soaked the raisins(if we were lucky enough to have them) so they were lovely and plump. We didn’t have Icing but I look forward to making this and smothering it with Cream Cheese Frosting……haven’t had this since my Mom died in 1990, and her recipe mysteriously vanished. Thank you for the original – there is nothing like this recipe!

  • A Chevrolet Spark with a 454

    I make this cake all the time, actually. Made it for a friend on his 21st birthday, and he kept giving me this look like “bro, tomato soup and cake do NOT go together.” Five minutes later, a quarter of the cake had been devoured by him, and he practically begged me for the recipe.